Today is the day to remember all of the men and women who have valiantly fought for our country. We don’t know about you, but that makes us feel a little patriotic.
Summer is a perfect time to hit the road or sky and visit some of the places that honor the individuals who helped to make our country what it is today. From New York City to Honolulu, here are five destinations that will make you proud to be an American.
Gettysburg National Military Park - Gettsyburg, Pennsylvania
A historic moment of combat in the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg took place in July of 1863. Four months later, President Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address was delivered here. This year, if you miss the park’s 147th annual Memorial Day parade and ceremony at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, carve out time over the summer months to tour the battlefield. You can explore it in your own car; hike it by foot, bike, or horse; or sign up for one the ranger programs or educational battlefield walks.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery -Arlington, Virginia
This site of the first military burials became a place to honor and remember those who gave their lives for freedom. In 1921, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was constructed to remember the missing and unknown soldiers who gave not only their lives but also their identities. Every day from October 1 to March 31, you can bear witness to the uniformed and highly trained commanders who conduct a Changing of the Guard ceremony on the hour every hour while the area is open to salute the Unknowns at this momentous site overlooking Washington, D.C.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial - Keystone, South Dakota
Everyone knows the iconic image of Mount Rushmore, but in real life it is even more awe-inspiring. The 60-foot granite sculptured faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln into the Black Hills represents 130 years of presidential history in a tremendous way. On site, brush up on the carving and sculpting techniques and walk the Presidential Trail to come face-to-face with this mountainous masterpiece.
National September 11 Memorial & Museum - New York City
Many opinions have surrounded the planning of this homage to the victims and heroes of this significant moment in history. Debates continue about whether a visit to the site of the World Trade Center should be an experience, or solely a sacred place to grieve. The museum just opened its powerful doors on May 21. Be sure to prep for the onslaught of emotions you no doubt will encounter while walking through the 110,000 square-foot exhibition that transports you back to 9/11 through personal narratives, photographs, videos, and haunting artifacts.
Memorial at Pearl Harbor - Honolulu, Hawaii
The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 sunk or damaged 18 US battleships, including the USS Arizona and many of its 1,117 sailors and Marines. This tribute to the ship’s lost crew, as well as the ripple effect that this “date which will live in infamy” is as somber as it is powerful. An air of solemn respect fills the air of this 184-foot-long sculpture that floats above the heroes still entombed in the Arizona. After the 75-minute Memorial program and ferry trip to the mid-water site, quietly take in the Medal of Honor recipients in the Remembrance Circle, look at the Wayside Exhibits that transport you back to that tragic day, and keep an eye out for survivors sharing stories at the visitor center.